Saturday, May 1, 2010

Atonement by Ian McEwan

I forgot how much I love Ian McEwan's writing.  The fact that there's some portion (however small) of this book where he's actually writing about writing almost made my head explode.  Seriously, I haven't marked passages in a book in years and years, but I found myself reading this one with a pencil handy.  I mean, how can anyone say that passages like this don't make you feel something:

Now the faintest stirring of a breeze rustled the display of sedge that stood before the fireplace.  two or three stout-bodied moths circled the lamp that stood upon the harpsichord.  When would anyone ever play it again?  That night creatures were drawn to lights where they could be most easily eaten by other creatures was one of those mysteries that gave her modest pleasure.  She preferred not to have it explained away.  At a formal dinner once a professor of some science or other, wanting to ake small talk, had pointed out a few insects gyrating above a candelabra.  He had told her that it was the visual impression of an even deeper darkness beyond the light that drew them in.  Even though they might be eaten, they had to obey the instinct that made them seek out the darkest place, on the far side of the light - and in this case it was an illusion.  It sounded to her like sophistry, or an explanation for its own sake.  How could anyone presume to know the world through the eyes of an insect?  Not everything had a cause, and pretending  otherwise was an interference in the workings of the world that was futile, and could even lead to grief.  Some things were simply so.

Brilliant.  Anyway, this is the story of Briony, who's 13 when we meet her, and about to bear false witness to a crime that will change her and her family's lives forever.  That's the best description I can give.  I've come to realize that McEwan is one of those love-him-or-hate-him authors.  I love him, and plan to try and read as many more of his books as I can this year.  I reviewed On Chesil Beach a couple of years ago, and I read Saturday shortly after that, but I stopped there for some reason.  Atonement is my current favorite of the three, but I can't wait to read the rest.

Incidentally, Atonement has since been made into a movie, which I recently bumped to the #1 spot in my Netflix queue (I love that word, BTW).  I'm looking forward to watching it, just to see what they did with it, but as I said to J at one point as I was reading, I can't even understand why anyone even tried to make this book into a movie.  The writing is SO beautiful, it could never possibly be done justice on film.  We'll see.

1 comment:

  1. I loved Atonement...didn't like just didn't have the same connection as Atonement. I fell in love with the characters in Atonement, even they did horrible things!